Five thoughts as Aztecs announce 2021 football season schedule

Credit: SDSU Athletics

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Credit: SDSU Athletics

The 2021 San Diego State Aztecs Football Schedule

September 4th New Mexico State

September 11 @ Arizona

September 18 Utah

September 25 Towson

October 2 Bye

October 9 New Mexico

October 16 @ San Jose State

October 23 @ Air Force

October 30 Fresno State

November 6 @ Hawaii

November 13 Nevada

November 20 @ UNLV

November 27 Boise State

December 4 Mountain West Championship Game

*Note: Home games in bold.

1. Early Scouting Begins

New Mexico State, SDSU’s first opponent, is currently playing football. Their final game is this Sunday against Dixie State. Having their season canceled cost the Aggies most of their returning players. They will be led by several transfers, including O’Maury Samuels.

Samuels is a transfer from Michigan. He was a four-star recruit coming out of high school. He has been unable to play this spring due to injury but should be ready to play against the Aztecs.

2. Great time for the bye week

The perfect place for the bye week would have been the week following SDSU’s trip to Hawaii. The second best spot would have probably been right in the middle of the season. The third best is exactly where it landed for the Aztecs.

The bye week is a demarcation between the non-conference and conference season and should help SDSU be at its best heading into the conference portion of the schedule. With FCS Towson the week before it, the coaching staff should have plenty of time to make any adjustments following two games against Pac-12 opponents.

3. New series with the Pac 12

SDSU welcomes new Pac 12 schools to the schedule. Playing schools from the conference has become an annual tradition. Only Oregon and USC have refused to play SDSU on the road from the Pac 12.

Arizona hired a new football coach in December. The game will also be the second of the season for the Wildcats. They open the season against BYU. Arizona, of course, is scheduled to open the new Aztec Warrior Stadium in 2022.

Utah should be one of the favorites, along with USC and Arizona State, for the Pac 12 West title. Early season scouting should be easier for the coaching staff. Utah also plays BYU the week before they play the Aztecs.

4. Mountain Division Opponents

The Aztecs are paired with some of the better teams from the Mountain division. They open conference play against their former defensive coordinator and head coach, who now lead New Mexico. Rocky Long will not technically be returning to the Mesa, but his return to the sideline opposite the Aztecs is noteworthy. Long is one of the two best head coaches in program history.

SDSU travels to Air Force this season. Their game is early enough in the schedule to miss some of the difficult weather, but they might be arriving for the first snow of the season. On average, three inches of snow drops in Colorado Springs during the month October. Whatever the weather, Air Force is annually one of the more difficult teams to prepare for and play.

Boise State visits the Aztecs the final week of the season. Oddly, the conference decided to play cross-division games the final week of the season even though doing so could set up a scenario where the same teams that played the last game of the season play in the championship game. The Broncos are one of the top Group of Five teams. This will be the first year under new head coach Andy Avalos.

5. West Division Opponents

Everywhere the Aztecs look in their division, they are faced with talented signal-callers. The top four in the conference play for division rivals San Jose State, Nevada, Fresno State, and Hawaii.

Early in the conference season, SDSU will know where it stands. It plays defending champion San Jose State a week after opening against New Mexico. The Spartans return Mountain West Championship Game MVP Nick Starkel.

Fresno State comes to town for the annual Old Oil Can game a week after SDSU plays on the road against Air Force. They boast the top QB statistics-wise.  Washington transfer Jake Haener led the conference in passing, averaging 336.8 yards a game. The game against the Bulldogs begins a string of four consecutive division games.

A trip to the islands to play Hawaii is on tap following Fresno State. There they will face Chevan Cordeiro and the Rainbow Warriors. Cordeiro struggled last season in Carson against SDSU, but Hawaii traditionally plays better at home. This will also be Cordeiro’s second season in head coach Todd Graham’s system.

The travel to Hawaii usually impacts the game following the trip. That game on SDSU’s schedule is Nevada. The Wolfpack is led by reigning conference player of the year Carson Strong. He led the conference in total yards and touchdowns a year ago.

For the final game against West Division rivals, SDSU goes on the road against UNLV. The Rebels will be entering their second season under former Oregon offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo. If all of the elite signal-callers are not enough, SDSU might face former TCU and former four-star prospect Justin Rogers if he wins the job for UNLV. Rogers played in two games last year for the Rebels.

In total, the schedule appears to be quite a challenge for the Aztecs, who are coming off a 4-4 season. They open Spring Camp on March 15th.

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